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Meet DNA's personal assistants
Date:5/7/2009

ocopied instructions of what to do can get discarded or misplaced, and this is what leads to cancer and other genetic diseases. Like mischievous "personal assistants," microRNAs connect to the photocopied message and disrupts its delivery. "Sometimes they throw out perfectly good instructions, or fail to carry out orders," says Dr. Shomron. Why they do this is the mystery that biologists everywhere want to solve. Dr. Shomron is playing no small role.

"Scientists have been trying to solve genetic diseases for many years, and God noticed we weren't vastly improving," says Dr. Shomron. This changed with the discovery of microRNAs. "When the genetic mechanism known as microRNA was described to the scientific community, we knew it would change how we studied genetic disease as we have an additional gene regulatory mechanism to look at."

Cells Behaving Badly

Scientists don't know why some breast cancer patients respond well to chemotherapy, while others do not. With the ability to provide a complete genetic profile, Dr. Shomron's research lets scientists look into a deeper layer of information about disease behavior and the potential to build specialized treatments around it. This research falls in the area known as personalized medicine.

Applications of his research can lead to understanding the effects of the environment on our cells as well. Dr. Shomron is also exploring the use of microRNA for "smart drugs" that can target individual and damaged cells.


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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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